Ironically, some of the coolest and most rewarding places to camp in the U.S. – namely in and around the Rocky Mountains – are also the hardest. Aside from being difficult to get to, campers who are physiologically used to living close to sea level can experience noticeable effects from high altitudes. Additionally weather conditions in the mountains are quite unpredictable, and have wreaked havoc on many a camping party in the past. There are, however, ways to mitigate these problems and truly enjoy your mountainous camping experience. Below are a few of the most prominent ones.
Find a spot on the leeward side of the mountain
Whether you’re camping and hiking on the highest peak in the Rockies or are venturing to the comparatively gentle slopes of the Appalachians, one rule of thumb when camping in a hilly area is to always set up on the slope’s leeward side. There is considerably less wind – especially at higher altitudes – on this side of the slope. Additionally, weather events tend to be a little milder as they pass over a slope’s peak – leaving you less vulnerable to the whims of Mother Nature.
Bring bananas and water
The two keys to staying healthy in unusually high altitudes, especially if you’re one that likes to hike on camping trips, is to stay hydrated and keep your electrolytes balanced. For you, this means two things: water and potassium. Consumption of these two substances will help stave off the muscle cramps and headaches that plague so many campers in high altitudes.
Pack extra stakes and rope
Even on a mountain’s leeward side, you can expect winds to be higher in mountainous areas than they would be closer to sea level. Things you wouldn’t normally tie or stake down (like tablecloths, tarps, etc.) will likely need to be secured at one point or another. Making sure you have the extra materials to do so will make your life much easier at the campsite.
Don’t forget the sunscreen and lotion
The air is dryer and sunlight tends to be more intense in mountainous areas – especially the Rockies. These areas are notorious for causing sunburn and dry skin, even in the winter. So no matter what time of year you’ve planned a camping trip to the mountains for, be sure to bring along some sunscreen and aloe. Use it regularly and generously on sensitive areas every day, especially your face and neck.
For many campers, heading to the mountains for an outdoor adventure is part of their “must-do” bucket list. Camping in the mountains, though, does require some pre-planning and extra precautions. By taking these simple measures, you can help to ensure that your trip to the mountainous outdoors is the experience of a lifetime.